Young voters were given the chance to hear the platforms of the presidential candidates at a forum in the K-State Student Union Courtyard on Tuesday afternoon.
Delta Sigma Theta Inc organized the event to educate the student body on main issues of the presidential race and also the viewpoints of the front-running candidates.
“[Delta Sigma Theta] focuses on political awareness and involvement,” said Juliann Todd, senior in kinesiology. “We just figured that since the election is coming up it would be a good idea to inform people about the candidates.”
George Weston, graduate student in sociology, and Aaron Apel, senior in philosophy, were joined on stage by former Kansas Gov. John Carlin. Weston is the current president of the K-State College Republicans and Apel is the current president of the K-State Young Democrats.
Weston supported the platforms of Mitt Romney, John McCain and Mike Huckabee and answered questions from the crowd regarding the candidates’ stances.
McCain has the best war record of any of the Republican candidates, Weston said, and was a prisoner of the Vietnam War for a large part of the war.
“During more than five and half years as a [prisoner of war], John McCain experienced the worst assaults on human dignity imaginable,” Weston said.
Weston also said McCain’s experiences in the camp and his lifelong dedication to public service are what make him a good candidate for the presidency.
Apel gave the positions of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards and also answered questions.
Apel said all the front-running Democratic candidates want to immediately reduce troop levels in Iraq, but all have different strategies of what to do after the levels are reduced.
Carlin, who was governor of Kansas from 1979-1987, urged all college students to become more active, especially in the upcoming election.
“If the younger generation does not become a force in the political process, generally speaking, [politicians] will continue to put off addressing the massive issues that require a lot of risk and long-term [work] to get accomplished,” Carlin said.
“I can assure you that the politicians and the candidates will turn on a dime when you become a force in the electorate. As long as you are the part of the electorate that participated the least, you’re not going to be a force.”
The event’s organizers were pleased to see Carlin talk with students and not at them.
“I was really surprised at how well John Carlin spoke and how he made it relevant to us,” said Carmen Richardson, junior in agriculture business and member of Delta Sigma Theta.
Overall, members from Delta Sigma Theta were pleased with the way students responded to the idea of the forum, Todd said.